“Makes you feel good the way he plays that clavinet” – Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic)
“The greatest living keyboard player in the world today” – Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple)
Dubbed the Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond Organ, Lachy Doley is Australia’s most celebrated Blues Soul Organ Player in the world today.
Lachy Doley has seen much of the world, recording and touring with acts as diverse as Powderfinger, Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, Jimmy Barnes, The Beautiful Girls – more recently recording on a new album of Joe Bonamassa’s which came out in early 2015. It was 2010 though, that saw the birth of THE LACHY DOLEY GROUP and they have been heavily recording and touring ever since
Recently going viral on Facebook with videos clocking up millions of views. His version of the Bill Withers classic ‘Use Me’ is now sitting at 1.7 million facebook views alone. We talked with Lachy about his collection of vintage keyboards, his favorite albums and life on the road.
When did you first get interested in vintage, analog keyboards and specially the Whammy Clavinet?
Pretty much from the start if you count a piano as vintage. But it was when I was about thirteen, I heard Booker T. & the M.G.’s for the first time and soon got to play a real Hammond through a Leslie. I was instantly hooked and still am. That kinda of power and expression didn’t come from a digital keyboard in the nineties. I was also lucky to be surrounded by so many great musicians who would play me blues, soul and then funk music as well. The funk is where I really heard all those other great sounds like the Minimoog, the Rhodes, the Wurly and of course the Clavinet. I was lucky enough to find a Clavinet in a pawn shop in 1995 for $125. It was in rough condition but it still worked and I soon discovered how percussive it was and how much fun it was to play. I played that Clavinet till it’s death just a few years ago. So when I found this vintage clavinet, but this one with a Whammy Bar attached to it. It was something I knew I had to get no matter how long it was gonna take to pay back.
You’ve played and collaborated with Powderfinger, Steve Vai and Deep Purple, as well as being dubbed by some as the Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond organ. What are some of your main influences?
My main influence as a keyboard player is my older brother Clayton. I basically followed his footsteps till I was about 20 and we’d listen to Booker T and Jimmy Smith. Then I started discovering my own sound which people would often remark as reminiscent of Jon Lord. I got sick of people telling me this so I eventually decided I needed to check him out. Well that opened a whole new world to me. His genius was inspiring. Strangely enough I thought I sounded nothing like him, but I think it was more the attitude that people found similar and it really made me feel like I didn’t have to just play blues or soul. I could incorporate so much more into my Hammond world. Little bit of Classical, little bit of Psychedelia, little bit of Prog, little bit of Rock or even Metal which has somehow all blended into whatever it is that I do today.
How did you get into the blues, soul and R&B? What are some of your favorite albums?
My mom had a boyfriend who played guitar and sang the blues. He showed me John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. I began to pick up on what the piano was doing on some of these records and we would jam at home. Him on guitar and my brother and I on piano. Booker T’s first album ‘Green Onions’ will always be a favourite. Even Stevie Ray’s ‘In Step’ was a favourite until I heard it for the ten thousandth time. Nowadays it’s all about Ray Charles and Betty Layette. I just love the way they make me feel.
You are constantly touring and performing, how is life on the road for y’all?
Most of my touring is in my home country of Australia. I’m able to tour that quite well just flying to gigs on weekends and then back home to my wife Jem and my 2 year old son Dash for the week. It works really great and often the family get to come along too. However the last few years I’ve been doing more overseas touring which has been amazing for my career but does make it much harder on my family. I’m blessed to have an amazing wife and she works full time to keep our mortgage at bay. I’m hoping one day my music will bring in enough to take the family on tour most of the time. But until then we’ll keep trying to make it work somehow.
Your live version of Bill Wither’s “Use Me” received millions of views with 1.7 million facebook views alone. Did you expect to receive such a huge feedback?
No way at all. I had a similar video uploaded of the same song a year before and it certainly didn’t receive the same attention. Something about this video really captured people from the start. I’ve now got 4 videos all over 500,000 views. It’s been a serious game changer for me and helped me secure so many more fans, overseas festivals and album sales. Just trying to work out how to do it again.
You have a vast collection of rare, vintage keyboards. What are some of your most interesting gear that you got over the years?
Obviously my Whammy Clavinet. I still think most of the world haven’t witnessed it yet. It’s a seventies Hohner D6 clavinet but it’s been modified. A design by the late Buddy Castle of a whammy bar which attaches to the bridge of the Clav where the strings are fixed has turned it into a whole other beast. And what a beast it is! So much fun to play and so much extra expression now I can bend all the notes. I also have an early Minimoog which I love to death. You seriously can’t pull a bad sound out of it. Then there are my Hammonds. I’ve four of them now and counting haha.
What’s next for you and The Lachy Doley Group?
Our LIVE album recorded at a great Australian festival called ‘Blues on Broadbeach’ comes out May 19. Then after that we hit Europe again playing Holland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, UK, Germany and then Canada. Then we’ll be back to Australia to record and get ready for 2018… and hopefully work out how we can play some more shows in North and South America!
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